Clinton or Trump: Which Security Risk for President?
“Could your Congressman pass an FBI background check?” is the question posed on the cover of the DVD version of Trevor Loudon’s new film, “The Enemies Within.” In fact, however, the FBI only provides background information about federal employees, not elected officials. In Mrs. Clinton’s special case, there was an opportunity to recommend prosecution of her over her mishandling of classified information, but FBI Director James Comey declined, keeping her presidential campaign alive.
At the Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday night, Mrs. Clinton demonstrated how much of a security risk she is. She acknowledged that “…the State Department system was hacked.” She explained, “Most of the government systems are way behind the curve. We’ve had hacking repeatedly, even in the White House.” Then she added, “There is no evidence my system was hacked.”
The State Department was hacked but her emails were somehow protected? This is almost as mind-boggling as her flip-flop on whether she ever received a briefing on handling classified information.
Not to be outdone, Donald J. Trump began by noting, “I look today and I see Russian planes circling our planes,” referring to hostile Russian military actions. But he went on to say, “I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. And I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia.”
Then he added, “Take a look at what happened with their fighter jets circling one of our aircraft in a very dangerous manner. Somebody said less than 10 feet away. This is hostility.”
So how will Trump deal with this hostility? He didn’t say. Instead, he preached cooperation with Russia.
Asked about Putin, he said, “I think when he calls me brilliant, I’ll take the compliment, Okay?” He added, “I think I’d be able to get along with him.”
On what possible basis does he make such a claim?
Trump released a letter in which 88 retired staff and flag officers endorsed his candidacy. It calls for “a long-overdue course correction in our national security posture and policy” and says, “As retired senior leaders of America’s military, we believe that such a change can only be made by someone who has not been deeply involved with, and substantially responsible for, the hollowing out of our military and the burgeoning threats facing our country around the world.”
There is nothing in the letter recognizing the threat posed by Russia.
One name that is not on the list is retired Air Force General Philip Breedlove, former head of U.S. European Command. Russia, he says, has to be recognized “as the enduring, global threat it really represents.”
Breedlove says, “Moscow is determined to reestablish what it considers its rightful sphere of influence, undermine NATO, and reclaim its great-power status. That desire has been evident since 2005, when Russian President Vladimir Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [twentieth] century’—a preposterous claim in light of that century’s two world wars. It is through this prism that the West must view Russian aggression.”
Trump seems dangerously naïve regarding the Russian threat. Hillary Clinton isn’t any better, since she and Obama engineered a failed Russian reset in 2009.
The question that must go beyond the two major presidential candidates is whether the intelligence community failed to understand what Putin meant in 2005 when he called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [twentieth] century.”
A couple of years before Mrs. Clinton’s Russian reset, a very important book came out, entitled, Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War, based on interviews with Sergei Tretyakov, the former Russian spymaster based at the U.N. Tretyakov was quoted as saying, “I want to warn Americans…You believe because the Soviet Union no longer exists, Russia now is your friend. It isn’t, and I can show you how the SVR (i.e., KGB) is trying to destroy the U.S. even today and even more than the KGB did during the Cold War.”
Mrs. Clinton may not have read the book because one of her top associates, former Time magazine journalist and top Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott, is depicted as a dupe of the Russian intelligence service.
This is the same Strobe Talbott who had Mrs. Clinton’s direct email address when she was secretary of state. The New York Times noted that Talbott, who now heads the Brookings Institution, had written to Hillary Clinton directly, expressing concerns that “time-sensitive messages” were not getting through the State Department email address of Hillary chief of staff Cheryl D. Mills.
Despite his role as a former official with controversial Russian intelligence contacts, Talbott was one of those given “privileged status” in Mrs. Clinton’s world.
At the time, the publication of the Comrade J book raised serious questions about security procedures at the Department of State. Those questions have only increased over the years with the damaging revelations about Mrs. Clinton’s use of private emails to communicate classified information.
Yet Trump throws the issue away by sounding even softer on Vladimir Putin now than Mrs. Clinton used to be then.
For his part, Putin continues to broadcast his intentions. Russian jets have been buzzing American ships, and now a Russian jet has flown within 10 feet of a U.S. Navy spy plane. Inexplicably, Trump denounces that while praising Putin, even saying that the authoritarian ruler is popular in the polls.
The question Trevor Loudon needs to ask is, “Could Clinton or Trump pass a background check?” The answer is they don’t need to. Yet, one of them will win and follow another security risk into the White House.
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